The Rise of Ice Hockey in the US
Many people in the U.S. have gained an interest in the rapidly growing sport ice hockey. Fans these days pack out stadiums to see their favorite teams battle for victory on the ice. A hockey game can have a wide variety of spectators. A few examples are dating couples, families, partying guys (usually drunk singles), parents of the players, etc. Its 7:30 on a Tuesday night February 23 1999 and Des Moines Metro Sports Ice Arena is packed out with fans waiting to see their Des Moines Buccaneers take on the North Iowa Huskies. Walking into the arena one cant help but notice the cold, thin air that results from the ice. This is definitely sweatshirt material. Fans of all different shapes and sizes pushing to get into the small arena. As one would walk through the halls of this sports facility to get to their seats they would have to notice the old worn walls looking much like an unfinished basement that is a result of years of fans abuse. A loud roar fills the narrow halls as vendors that line walls are all competing and shouting for your business. These ammeter business people are selling anything from food and beer to hockey paraphernalia.
Coming through the hallway into the stands one would notice the pin ups all around the walls that brag of the Bucs past victory. The lines on the ice are freshly painted and the stands have been cleaned and are ready for night of hockey craze. After the rush is over the fans take their seats and wait for the announcing of the teams and then stand for the national anthem. I noticed three kids in front of me mocking the national anthem, which seemed suitable for a 12-14 year-old maturity level. The mother quickly grabs the closest one to stop the behavior. If you dont settle down thisll be the last game you come to with me! she said while squeezing the eldests arm. The referee drops the puck and the team captains battle for possession and that begins the first period. Already five minutes into the game and the Bucs score their first goal and fans go crazy as the announcement booth sounds the siren. But that wasnt enough the Bucs are really giving the crowd a show as they score their second goal at 9:17 into the first period. Once again the fans are going crazy, chanting thing like Go Bucs! and Defense!! as their team begins to seal their victory. The Bucs have played a very physical game so far and finally get called on it. The official calls a 2:00 minute penalty on the Bucs for high-sticking. Just ten minutes into this action packed game and already these guys in front of me are drunk and disagree with the referee so they begin to shout and swear. You blind son of bitch theres no way that was high sticking he shouts angrily to the ref as if it would have an affect on the officiating. Finally it gets so out of hand that a security guard hears the commotion and warns the not so gentlemen if they dont calm down theyll be asked to leave. As the second period nears the Huskies attempt their comeback with their first goal.
Now the fans are pissed off and booing the officials because it wouldnt have happened if the Bucs werent shorthanded. Even the mother and father of the boys in front of me are yelling obscenities. On that note the first period ends and the restrooms and the concession stands are flooded with impatient fans that want to get back to their seats. Spilt popcorn fills the hallway, as the janitors cant even keep up with the mess. The second period begins and Huskies of North Iowa have really tightened up their defense creating a real struggle for the Bucs to get the puck in the defensive attack zone. The vendors trying to sell all of their concessions constantly interrupt my focus on the game. Period 2 seemed to be really boring because it was mainly shots on goal. But at the last minute the Bucs put one away and scored putting them at 3-1 in the end of the 2nd.
Once again the stands empty and the bathrooms are full of people trying to take care of business. After the zamboni resurfaces the ice the announcer randomly selects three people by seat number to center ice. They have a contest shooting the puck from center ice into a smaller version of the hockey net. It looks really hard. One of the lucky contestants actually made it in and won the Grand-Prize, a brand new Jeep Wrangler. The fans all cheered her on and shared in her excitement.
Finally into the third period and Bucs are at it again, giving them a nice padded lead at 4-1. And once again the sirens are sounded and the cockiness and arrogance fills the room as fans get wild. The frustration of North Iowa is very evident now and a fight breaks out between the players. Both teams are penalized 2:00 minute penalty for fighting leaving the teams four on four. Rounding toward the end of the game the Huskies are forced to pull their goalie if they want any chance in victory of this game. It seems as though their strategy is working and they begin to close in the gap. Are the Bucs going to choke the fans question themselves. The Huskies, struggling for a victory, lose possession of the puck and the Bucs score on an open net. Ending period three the fans leave the game satisfied with the outcome and a taste of victory.
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